18 April, 2021

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Remembering Richard: And The Silence That Empowers Those In Pursuit Of Power

By Roel Raymond

Roel Raymond

On Saturday (14) the family of the late slain journalist Richard de Zoysa met at the Chapel of Transfiguration at the S. Thomas’ College Mt. Lavinia, to give thanks for a life brutally taken 31 years ago. Early in the morning on February 18, 1990, Richard was abducted from his home. His body; jaw broken, shot in the head and throat, washed ashore on a beach in Moratuwa the next morning. This was during the height of the Premadasa presidency.

Richard was not the first journalist to be abducted and slain in Sri Lanka. He is also not the last. And as his cousin, Dr Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu pointed out at the thanksgiving service on Saturday, “what would (de Zoysa) do if he was here today, given that what he gave his life for 31 years ago, is still happening in a variety of guises.”

Richard was my uncle. I did not know him personally, I was very young when he was killed, but I have previously written about how his life looms large over me, shaping the decision I made to continue in my craft. But inasmuch as his life inspires me, his death, too, holds me back.

I have long argued with family, friends, and perhaps most specifically with my uncle Dr Saravanamuttu, who continually challenges me to do more and say more, that I have no intention of dying. “I am not the saviour,” I have proclaimed firmly to him. “I am not here to save the world. I am only here to do my job.”

I have had justifications for my argument. I sincerely do not want to die. I sincerely do not want to end up imprisoned. Moreover, in understanding the nature of power — I have argued with those who will listen — I understand that small men and women will be continually crushed by the men and women who are single-minded in pursuit of power. I am a small woman, who did not in any way want to be overpowered by anyone who felt I stood in their way of power — because I was in no pursuit of power.

But small, or large, power is inherent. And in our silences, our refusal to engage, we give our power away to those who understand it, value it, and want it far more than we do.These are the politicians who come up, crop after crop, generation after generation, wheedling their way into our lives by crafting public personas that are genial, promising and pleasing. And in this ‘one-vote’ system we live in, we give our valuable to ‘one-vote’ — our power — to the people most able to manipulate and hoodwink us.

Journalism, too, in Sri Lanka today, has morphed into power-sharing arrangements; power is given away in informal arrangements that are mutually beneficial to the politicians and the scribes. The shallow pursuit of public acknowledgement and popularity have overshadowed sensibilities and civic responsibilities.To hold our leaders — both those in power, and those seeking power — accountable, there must be a radical understanding of the very nature of our work, and a commitment to the higher ideals that come with it. While Sir John Dalberg-Acton, the 1st Baron Acton is credited with the remark, “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely,” I side more with the Pulitzer-winning author Robert Caro’s remark, “Power always reveals.” Power reveals character and integrity, and if we look closely enough, where we ought, and are not afraid to reveal the truth, we won’t have to wait till power is amassed for a public exposition of a leader’s character and integrity; signs of these are apparent very early on, and almost without exception continue throughout. But in the absence of moral compunction and compass, Abraham Lincoln’s appeal to the “the better angels of our nature,” goes unheeded,  and people, and journalists — are easily manipulated.

In his remarks at the memorial for Richard on Saturday, the Reverend Marc Billimoria added to what had thus far been a private wrestling in the innermost of my being. “Dying for truth as justice is nothing strange, to members of the Christian church,” he told the audience. “The Judeo-Christian tradition, as expressed in the Bible, demands of its followers a radical commitment to truth and justice, as well as advocacy on behalf of the voiceless, the helpless and the harassed.”

As a practising Christian, I know I cannot continue to ignore the call to action. But for those who are not of my faith, consider the words of  Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, a Russian novelist and political prisoner, who said, “The line separating good and evil passes not through states, nor between classes, nor between political parties either – but right through every human heart.”

Solzhenitsyn did not end there. “…even within hearts overwhelmed by evil, one small bridgehead of good is retained,” he wrote in The Gulag Archipelago. “And even in the best of all hearts, there remains…an uprooted small corner of evil.” This is true of human nature, and yet, we still have power. We have the power to intentionally choose to live lives that are built on the values of truth, justice and equality, that are not harmful to those around us and the generations to come.

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Latest comments

  • 20
    0

    Dear Roel Raymond, I think of Richard often, and still feel the anger within me, when I think of how brutally this gentle person was snatched away in front of his dear mother, and he was tortured and killed, which was shocking and painful at that time, and something I still cannot get over today. My heart went to his grieving mother, who lost her only child.
    The poor lady was heart broken until her last day here on earth.

    The viciousnesses that we see even today, by leaders who wear white and worship at temples, while ordering their goons to threaten, intimidate, kidnap, and brutally murder our journalists, activists, and those who speak out about the crimes by our government, is not only disgusting, but hypocritical. These murders are brutal, and no follower of any religion, should even think about resorting to such violence. Whether it is Richard de Souza, Lasantha, Thajudeen, or so many other innocent people, who stood in the way of these politicians and their families, these brutal murders should not go unpunished, and the next leader should have investigated the matter and got justice for the families, but it never happens. Sri Lankans have got numb to violence, even by their own government. Families still grieve and find no closure or peace. Murderous leaders are voted in again and again.

  • 3
    24

    Roel R
    There is no space for your lament here.
    CT is committed to justice only for Lasantha Wickramasinghe.
    Richard de Zoysa did not happen during Rajapaksa.
    You and I have to live with this reality of one sided, Geneva type justice.
    Truth is a process.

    Soma

    • 10
      1

      Soma, Your comment “CT is committed to justice only for Lasantha Wickramasinghe”.
      Who is Lasantha Wickramasinghe you are referring to and what happened?

      • 5
        2

        Mahila :). I hope this idiot Soma gets your sarcasm.

        • 1
          5

          Tamil f
          .
          Refer to Sinhala_man’s response to my comment below and decide for yourself who is the idiot wise man. You think you are an Einstein, don’t you? This happens when a Jaffna brain is quick frozen in Canadian north.
          Your refugee application is still pending?

          Soma

          • 6
            0

            S
            Do not get agitated. The best answer to an insult is not another insult.
            Please avoid reference to race when criticizing individuals.

            • 5
              2

              SJ, I only insult racists. These racists should not be allowed to destroy this country more than what they have done. See SJ, you and I may not agree on everything but since you are not a racist, I will have a proper dialogue with you. But Somooooo is a fool.

              • 2
                0

                TftN
                There are far worse than racists commenting here.
                Insulting people gets no one anywhere.
                By insulting you bring out the worst in anyone.
                Where does it take us? More abuse and more intense racism on all sides.
                Is that what we want?

          • 3
            2

            Dumbo Somooooooooooo, make note of the following;
            -Lasantha Wickrematunge is the correct name. A nitwit like you can’t even get Lasantha’s name right.
            -Toronto while it is cold in winter, the temperature does not go below -20 degrees. You need to have a -60 to -70 degrees to freeze yourself to death. This is education for yourself, which you appear to lack a great deal. You are too busy being a racist, you forgot to go to school. How many years did you spend in kindergarten?
            -The governments of Canada are run by people who are civil and don’t go around assassinating journalists who write about them. Canadian politics are generally boring as nothing much happens…….meaning no drama.
            -Jaffna brain is not any different from your Hambantota brain, but the only difference is I use mine and it has a lot of wear and tear, unlike yours which is brand new………….meaning never used.
            -I came here as a landed immigrant many years ago. I know you are eager to come here and make some money. Maybe if you come you will see how civilized nations operate.

            I have been here almost 4 decades, for your information refugees do not sit on refugee status for 40 years. So grow up and stop making a bloody fool of yourself and start writing stuff that makes some sense……………………meaning stop being a goat.

            • 2
              2

              Tamil f
              Thanks for the information.
              Did you return the money collected for arms purchase?

              Soma

              • 1
                0

                This comment was removed by a moderator because it didn’t abide by our Comment policy.

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              • 1
                0

                somoooooo, this is why I keep saying you are a complete mutt. Unlike you, we deemed the LTTE a threat to the middle and upper middle class of the north. We left mainly because of the monkeys in army uniform and LTTE fellows who jointly will make our lives a living hell. Unlike you, we come from an educated family where we used our brains to make a living in Canada. I know you are still hunkered down somewhere in some back country in Hambantota cleaning toilets. Grow up idiot!!!!!

            • 2
              0

              Dear Soma, aka Gamini Somaratne,
              .
              I hope that this last comment from you indicates that you are willing to share with us some of the information garnered by you during your years in the Navy and with Avant-Garde.
              .
              Remembering the gentle Richard as we are, let me hope that we’ll be able to rid this world of armaments.
              .
              Well, that’s a tall order! Let’s at least hope for a constructive end to the deliberations in Geneva.

    • 2
      13

      Dear Roel R
      Is there a deeper phycological truth than likes of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn could comprehend?
      My greatest enigmas are
      How Jaffna Library and the massacre of innocent Tamils in 1983 converted all Tamils to ardent supporters of UNP.
      How 1989 Bheeshanaya with a figure close to 60,000 (during which Richard de Zoysa was also tortured to death) converted the JVP to guardian angels of UNP.
      .
      Historically, descendants of those converted at gun point having killed further millions of their forefathers are the most devout followers of those faiths today.
      .
      The Judeo-Christian tradition, as expressed in the Bible, demands of its followers a radical commitment to truth and justice, as well as advocacy on behalf of the voiceless, the helpless and the harassed.”
      Reminds one of the silence of then Pope on Holocaust.
      ,
      There seem to be deeper levels in human nature than Sigmund Freud or Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn could penetrate.

      Soma

      • 6
        1

        soman

        “How 1989 Bheeshanaya with a figure close to 60,000 (during which Richard de Zoysa was also tortured to death) converted the JVP to guardian angels of UNP.”

        Irrespective of party affiliation, you could hold an important diplomatic posting now had you committed enough murders and war crimes being part of Goa’s dead squad.

        However you chose to work with low level saffron thugs. Bad luck.

        • 1
          5

          NV
          Thanks.
          Now please tell me
          How Jaffna Library and the massacre of innocent Tamils in 1983 converted all Tamils to ardent supporters of UNP.

          Soma

          • 2
            1

            Soman

            “How Jaffna Library and the massacre of innocent Tamils in 1983 converted all Tamils to ardent supporters of UNP.”

            Perhaps you ask SJ for an Marxist/Maoist analysis.
            Perhaps the Tamils support the lesser evil.
            Perhaps they are like their Gene sharing Sinhala brethren, masochists.
            Perhaps part of their cunning plan, weaken the state.
            Perhaps they see not much difference between two Sinhala/Buddhist racist parties.
            ….
            ….
            By the way do you see any difference between the two parties? If you do could you list them.

        • 1
          1

          Goa has death squads around the world is true. I met them in Malaysia recently.

      • 4
        2

        Soma,
        “Historically, descendants of those converted at gun point having killed further millions of their forefathers are the most devout followers of those faiths today.”
        Perhaps you should do some further reading in the Mahavamsa. It says that non-Buddhists can be killed because they are less than animals. I don’t believe Ven. Mahanama could have been converted at gunpoint. For one thing, he was not a Karawe.
        .

        • 2
          2

          Old codger
          You are quite knowledgeable in history.
          You once told me Ven. Mahanama was a Tamil.

          Soma

          • 3
            1

            soman

            “Old codger You are quite knowledgeable in history.”

            He is, that’s why you shouldn’t bull in this forum.

            “You once told me Ven. Mahanama was a Tamil.”

            It is not just Ven. Mahanama, all those pride themselves being Sinhala/Buddhists, Sinhalese, Buddhists, …………….. are also Sinhala speaking Demelas.
            Get over it

    • 3
      0

      Dear Soma,
      .
      Lasantha’s surname was Wickrematunga; you’ve got that wrong is what Mahila has twice told you.
      .
      This is the problem with hints, innuendo and sarcasm. The point is missed.
      .
      I will say something about Richard de Zoysa in a different comment. Just a word to Ashan (whose comment I appreciate), turning the surname to “de Soysa ” in this context is wrong but harmless. But using “de Souza” could lead to misunderstanding. This famous man’s ancestry was quite different:
      .
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Doric_de_Souza

      • 3
        5

        Sinhala_man
        .
        Thanks a lot.
        This “auto suggestion” feature has let me down.
        Thanks for your understanding which I cannot expect from some donkeys on CT.
        I let them bray and enjoy themselves.

        Soma

        • 4
          0

          This comment was removed by a moderator because it didn’t abide by our Comment policy.

          For more detail see our Comment policy https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/comments-policy-2

          • 2
            0

            Thank you Mr SM I think you are now spot on.

        • 1
          0

          Continuing:
          .
          However,
          if there is indeed a change of heart on your part, I’m sure that we will all welcome it. All others who have commented have originally read this tribute subscribing to its principal aim calling for an end to all strife.
          .
          What we ask is modest, really. That all of us be allowed to live happily in this land of ours, with nobody laying traps for others.
          .
          Most of us on CT know that you delight in sowing discord and confusion. I’d like you to please stop doing that and we will welcome you as a genuine friend.

          • 1
            1

            Dear S_M
            “Most of us on CT know that you delight in sowing discord and confusion.”
            What you mean is I am deviating from the official line??
            When you say “most of us” that puts in a quandary.
            I know what most of CT readership delight on- anti Sinhala Buddhist venom.
            I am trying to clarify that they are self contradictory and utterly illogical. I am trying to get them round to a patient, unexcited discussion. They run away shouting Soma is a racist rather than taking the critical issues head on.
            Allow me one minute more. Please go through this link where I am asking the simple, direct, unambiguous, most relevant question to the context:
            “Who are the ‘Tamils’ as far as India is concerned-who and who are included/excluded.” SEARCH FOR THE WORD ‘SOMA’ AND SEE FOR YOURSELF.
            .
            https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/support-for-sri-lankas-unity-territorial-integrity-is-tied-to-tamils-aspirations-for-equality-justice-peace-dignity-india/
            .
            Here is an opportunity to prove your credentials as an unbiased, straight forward gentleman.
            .
            Thanks

            Soma

            • 0
              0

              To me, it looks as though you have protested to CT and got some of the debatable items posted by me removed.
              .
              This is the real problem, Soma. I did go to the other article two days ago, and I read all your comments there, a great many. As usual, they offer all sorts of seeming rewards, if Tamils everywhere agree to what YOU say. All is conditional.
              .
              There is no need for me to prove my credentials. I have always stated clearly and unambiguously who I am and what I have done throughout my life.
              .
              Soma, it is you who must tell us all that you know about two subjects that all literate Sri Lankans worry about: the ending of the War, from the view-point of a naval officer, and Avant-Garde.

    • 9
      0

      Soma,
      “Richard de Zoysa did not happen during Rajapaksa (time).”
      “You and I have to live with this reality of one sided, Geneva type justice.”
      Oh, have you forgotten that Rajapaksa went to Geneva with a list of disappeared people? What is justice for the goose is justice for the gander too.

      • 5
        0

        OC,
        .
        Soma or the like would never see it right. I dont think even to make effort would be necessary.

        Either the kind of mena re caught by life long slumber or their genetics are permanantly modified by brain washing Rajapkshes chinthanaya (doggy doctrine).

    • 7
      1

      S
      That is unfair comment.
      It is true that the CT readership and most contributors have a pro-West bias, even when standing on opposing sides on ethnic issues.
      For them, anything goes that attacks the Rajapaksas. (But that cannot exonerate the Rajapaksas.)
      Yet there is room for democratic dialogue amid piles of vile abuse of persons and communities.
      One should not harm that space by belittling articles like this.
      *
      Richard de Zoysa was a thorn in the side of President R Premadasa. But even the most ardent admirer of RP will not say anything to hurt the sentiments of Richard’s near and dear.
      *
      The fact is CT has provided space for Richard, who has been used by people to gain political mileage and have forgotten him. You could rightly criticize them.

      • 1
        6

        SJ
        Whenever a write-up on Lasantha W appears on CT I always go to “search” and type “Richard” to be disappointed every time.
        This is statistically improbable if not for blind bias of writers most of whom are in-office editorial staff.
        I can clearly discern that objective is not to evoke any sympathy for Lasantha or defend freedom of expression but maintain hatred towards Rajapaksa.
        I am not here to defend Rajapaksa but using Lasantha as a political tool is despicable, which Lasantha’s family members don’t seem to have realised.
        There cannot be a story of murders of journalists without Richard de Zoysa being mentioned.

        Soma

        • 4
          0

          Soma,
          “I always go to “search” and type “Richard” to be disappointed every time.”
          There is one page full of results for Richard. You are being economical with the truth. To be fair, CT has been online only about 10 years, so you can’t expect it to cover things beyond that. Why not search “HLD Mahindapala” ? Why don’t great patriots like Shenali Waduge post on CT, but only on its FB page?

        • 4
          1

          S
          “This is statistically improbable if not for blind bias of writers most of whom are in-office editorial staff.”
          *
          Look at comments. They show far worse bias than regular articles.
          *
          All of us (except some masochists) like websites where many agree with our views, however stupid.
          If you search, not too hard necessarily, you will find one to suit your desire. Almost as easy as Internet dating.

          • 3
            0

            S.J,
            “websites where many agree with our views,”
            Some have such a tight comments policy that no comments at all appear. Then there is the Daily Mirror, which seems to prefer juvenile retards of all shades.

            • 2
              0

              OC
              The DM does not do it as policy I suppose. Once a site starts to attract such people no serious commentator will dare join the fray. Being a daily newspaper serious discussion is hard to sustain.
              *
              Even here you see retards at work. Some troll with pages of ‘malle pol’ comments, some cannot do without making personally offensive remarks, some are still hooked on their early teens addiction to silly name calling, and then there are the multiple avatars in self-promotion projects.
              You know the form.
              It is a Mad, Mad, Mad Mad world out here.
              *
              But one does survive, for very few of them have a sense of humor or can handle ridicule.

      • 1
        0

        “It is true that the CT readership and most contributors have a pro-West bias, even when standing on opposing sides on ethnic issues”

        SJ, I am sure your stand as a lone sentinel defending the honour of People Republic of China on this forum will be appreciated. Who knows you might even end up with ” The Red Star of China” ( or something along the line) for your efforts.

        • 4
          1

          Thanks for agreeing about the bias.
          Somebody has to put the record right.
          If you will take over the China job, I will gladly step aside and the Red Star is yours for the asking.
          *
          I will concentrate on other less frequent targets.

    • 6
      0

      Soma,
      .
      what matters is the percentage of high crimes. If you would be sane, it wont be that difficult you to get it right ?

      Alone in the post war period, RAJAPAKSHE criminals have deliberately committed high crimes, and some good srilankens worked diehard to expose the truth. That is why that good senior officer Shani AND our good friend Ranjana Ramanayaka are jailed today. If beheading would be legal, MaRa, Gota, Basil and their henchmen would not have been part of srilanken politics today, rather they are either gone or jailed forever. Please god s sake, think about the facts. Helping criminals to the manner you guys are upto is equally high crimes.
      :
      From the day one Rajapakshes entered to srilanken leadership, not only notherners but also all across the country are targeted. Just imagine, how they treat poor labourers in Middle east countries ? Most of them would not earn even 200 dollars a months though left the country for domestic jobs in that part of the world. We talk high about sinhala race anda bout our 2500 years of heritage, but would it be possible Rajakashes to abuse the funds if those domestic servants exported to ME countries did not send a cent ?

  • 5
    2

    Soma, Your comment “CT is committed to justice only for Lasantha Wickramasinghe”.
    Who is Lasantha Wickramasinghe you are referring to and what happened?

    • 4
      1

      Mahila

      “Who is Lasantha Wickramasinghe you are referring to and what happened?”

      Gota’s present official B***s carrier Soman has only partial memory.
      Therefore please bear with him.

      • 1
        4

        NV
        Let this Mahila bray and jump up and enjoy himself. I have ordered some grass and hay on-line for. him. Please tell him that the parcel is on the way.

        Soma

    • 1
      4

      Mahila
      I have ordered some grass and hay on-line for you which you will receive in a few days.

      Soma

    • 2
      0

      Lasantha Wickramthunga ‘s murder was nothing to the kind of SOMA. So no point of talking about the kind of commenters.

  • 8
    0

    Sri Lanka has become a country of human rights violators. Richard is not the first and Lasantha is not the last,
    It will continue in different forms in pursuit of power until people are mobilized to punish the violators and stop it for ever.

  • 4
    0

    Thank you, Ms. Raymond, for this poignant remembrance of Richard.

  • 4
    3

    The main culprits who killed this innocent man and went to sleep like babies;

    Ranasinghe Premadasa (died in a bomb blast)
    Ranjan Wijeyaratne (died in a bomb blast)
    Ronie Goonasinghe (died in a bomb blast)

    I do not know what happened to these hoodlums;
    Lal Priyantha Ranchagoda
    Gamlath Devasurendra
    Mahawedikkarage Sarathchandra

    • 2
      2

      TftN
      Then what about those who went to sleep like babies without harming as much as an insect?

      • 3
        0

        SJ, please rephrase your comment. I have met Richard once when he came to Jaffna. It is sad how serpents can slither into your home in the middle of the night and grab the only son from the clutches of his mother, take him away and shoot him dead. Disgusting pigs.

        • 3
          0

          TftN
          I thought that you were punning on ‘went to sleep like babies’ by your reference to the assassinations.
          That was why I referred to innocent victims.
          *
          I do not accept the assassination of even a mass murderer.
          When assassination becomes the norm for delivering justice we will only have blood and mayhem around us.
          *
          I can give a long list of offenders (like Mrs IG and her son) who were punished by assassins, of whose killings you will denounce many.

          • 3
            0

            SJ, you are a good man. I agree, but the people of SL have suffered in the hands of these maniacs for far too long. I have heated arguments with LTTE supporters in Canada. I challenged them to send their kids to fight for Tamil Ealam and they go silent. Why is that? Ever since I came to this beautiful country, I live a free man. No one stops and asks me for an ID or anything like that. Only police interaction I have ever had was for some traffic violation. Every day is a joy to be in this country………….this is why I want the same for SL. But as years go by, it looks more like a day dream. I presume you are Sinhalese (correct me if I am wrong), but I see someone with values in life. Racists don’t see you like that. They convict you because you Sinhalese or Tamil or whatever. See I have repeatedly said not all Tamils support this LTTE nonsense, and these racists are asking me how my leader Prabaharan died? These fellows are sick to the core. The LTTE has either wiped out or chased the entire intellectual community among the Tamils. So many people (Tamils) I knew as a child were assassinated by the LTTE, hence my disgust with these killers.

            • 0
              0

              This comment was removed by a moderator because it didn’t abide by our Comment policy.

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            • 1
              0

              Oh, I see the mistake that I made. “Tamil from the north” admires SJ but said that he “presume(d) you are Sinhalese (correct me if I am wrong)”.
              .
              Yes, it was up to SJ to correct him, not my job. Sorry.

              • 2
                0

                Sinhala_man, whether SJ is Sinhalese or Tamil it does not matter. As long as he speaks his mind in a decent manner. Racist attacks will not be tolerated.

              • 2
                0

                Sinhala_Man, I don’t admire anyone here but agree with them or respect their honest views. There is nothing wrong with that.

    • 0
      5

      Tamil f
      Velupillei Prabakaran was laying on a bed of roses.

      Soma

      • 5
        1

        Somoooooo, where VP was lying is no concern to me. I don’t talk about VP but you are so involved with him all the time, why may I ask? Whether VP was sleeping on roses or a straw mat, is irrelevant to me. Go and tell this to people who supported VP. But you on the other hand is a servant boy for Ali Baba and 40 thieves…………….the Rajapaksas.

    • 6
      0

      One of these hoodlums Gamlath Devasurendra is still existing though the scum of a gun is finding it difficult to walk at present living down Kelaniya way.

      • 5
        1

        Harishchandra thanks, please write more about this scumbag. I always wondered what happened to this nasty fellow. I still remember I had a friend in Jaffna who played sports with me who was Sinhalese, he spoke Tamil fluently but we spoke in English with me in Jaffna for reasons unknown. When things were heating up back in the early 80s, I told him to leave Jaffna and go back to Moratuwe, he asked me why and I told him you are not safe around here. Though you speak Tamil well, the people are angry in Jaffna and they will harm you one day. I don’t want to see my friend getting hurt and I insisted he goes back, which he did. I wish I can find him one day and sit for a meal with him. A week later another Sinhalese friend I had was gunned down. The LTTE made up a story calling him an army spy, which was a complete lie.

  • 4
    1

    PART ONE
    .
    Dear Roel Raymond ,
    .
    I agree that what made you think it necessary to write this in a public forum is that it looks as though the sacrifice of Richard’s life has been in vain given that the abuses continue .
    .
    I was not a close buddy of Richard, but I had the privilege of working closely with him for three or four weeks on a production of two short plays by Ernest McIntyre in 1994. He was ten years younger than me, but it so happened that he turned up in Peradeniya University to judge an “Inter-hall Drama Competition” where we premiered “The Loneliness of the Short-Distance Traveller” . He was so impressed with the production by Revantha Sinnetamby that he decided to stage that and “ A Somewhat Mad and Grotesque Comedy ” together with it at the Lionel Wendt.

  • 6
    1

    PART TWO
    .
    I acted in the Peradeniya play as an undergraduate (if puzzled ask – but such lengthy explanations are surely unnecessary), and Richard both acted in and directed the other play. Audiences were disappointing. What impressed me about Richard were his gentleness, concern for people, and the amount of hard work he put in himself. If you meet Rajiva Wijesinha, check this out for accuracy with him. He was one of the Peradeniya Judges.
    .
    I confirm that the uncle you never knew was a wonderful human being.

  • 8
    0

    Four days after Richard’s cremation, I wrote
    —:
    To Catch the Conscience

    for Richard de Zoysa

    This breaking of a young and vibrant life
    Can be no act of God.
    So then what meaning
    In this play of ours?
    Do wanton ones dispose of us in sport?

    We are not toys
    Our severing is no game
    And I – an unbeliever – need a theme.
    I’ll find it yet
    And trace a young man’s part,
    The villain know, who had the Lion’s heart.

    He could have kept
    The cover of the mime
    Or lulled us with the glory of his voice.
    Instead, compassion forced him write the lines
    Of tragedy, his last and greatest part.

    We see the skull –
    For we are much possessed –
    As molten fingers ravel back the skin.
    And each one knows
    The time has long since passed
    When he, with confidence, can say: `This is the last.’

    The Daily News carried an article by me, 20/2000, captioning it “The Last Days”.
    It described 2 encounters with Richard (whose birthday I share, I believe), shortly before his killing. One ws a poetry recital. He read “On Finding the Graveyard of My Grandparents”. His beautiful voice sent a tremor through me as he spoke the last, ominous lines:
    “I stand at the door of eternity
    As the shadow of God passes over me.”

  • 8
    0

    UNP / SLFP / SLPP are all killers of jurnalists and reporters and human rights violators to the core.

    Richard De Soyza was a young jurnalist who did his job with intergrity and professionalism.

    It is not surprising that the conduct of the Sri Lanka government is under scrutiny of the UNHRC.

  • 7
    0

    I misquoted the last lines of the poem Richard read. They are:

    ‘The shadow of God falls over me
    As I stand at the gate of eternity.’

    Some days before he was killed, he had a very strong, challenging, article in the paper, in which he declared himself a Marxist.. I ran into him the next day, after a German film (Maria Braun….) in which a journalist was killed.

    “Richard, why did you write like that at this dangerous time?

    “Some of us have to stand up!’ he responded witheringly.

    Two days later, in the relative peace of Sigiriya, I was stunned when I opened the newspaper.

  • 3
    5

    Sinhala_Man brings some sense and logic to the correspondence. No point wasting space on most other comments. Drivel.

    • 5
      0

      Dear Sarath,
      .
      I have no idea who you are. However, thanks for appreciating what I wrote (the original, two part comment commencing: “Dear Roel Raymond ,
      .
      I agree that what made you think it necessary to write this.”)
      .
      You correctly identified my sincerity.
      .
      However, need we compare it with what others have written? Note the utterly sincere tone of what Manel Fonseka has written. That goes for some comments by others as well.
      .
      At the other extreme there are views that are purely political; let me stop at this point, after clearly identifying myself.
      .
      Panini Edirisinhe

  • 6
    0

    Oh dear, looking up Roel’s earlier article about Richard, I found that I had posted “To Catch the Conscience” there, too. Very embarrassing. Severe memory problems now. My apologies to Roel & others who may have see it then — & to CT, of course.

    • 3
      0

      Dear Manel, good that you posted it here too. I am sure many others like me have not seen it before. It’s really lovely.

      • 3
        0

        Oh dear, I think I posted under the wrong message, Sugandh. I still havent mastered this new method — Manel

  • 2
    0

    “The Silence That Empowers Those In Pursuit Of Power”

    That silence that results from the fear of the tangible threats is just as haunting as the fear itself.

    That’s the take away for me from the inner struggles that the author has shared so poignantly.

    What if all those on the side of righteousness choose to be a Richard or a Lasantha… ? There’s certainly power in numbers…

    Those hearts overwhelmed by evil as well as the uprooted corner of evil in the many best of hearts have triumphed far too many times and far too long here in this island!

    • 4
      0

      How nice of you to say so, Sugandh.

      If you’re interested, next Sunday Island might have an article about my father — the source of our love of literature, the theatre. From our earliest years in London, he read/recited poetry to us in English, French, German, Italian, Latin. We just loved to hear his voice — at such times. Sadly, I doubt he wd have heard that other beautiful voice — Richard’s. He also chanted gathas while shaving.

      • 2
        0

        Dear Manel,
        Lovely to read such poignant recollections of amazing souls. A reminder of the best of humanity so often eclipsed by the worst.
        I shall look out for that article on your father.

  • 1
    7

    JVP were mass murdering terrorists similar to LTTE. Terrorism does not have any boundaries (geographical, racial, etc.) Unfortunately Richard got caught in the madness. The author makes some good points about power. Considering Sri Lanka, those who have held the most power have generally done so under extremely difficult conditions. Many of the politicians were corrupt, sure – but they often paid a heavy price. Not only Richard, but many good politicians, army generals, and intellectuals have been sacrificed for this separatist/fake state/anarchist nonsense. Let us remember them as equally as the journalists.

  • 2
    0

    When you comment, please do so in a more evenhanded way.
    .
    The JVP no longer uses violence. They no longer contest elections under the name which got discredited.
    .
    They contest as the NPP (National People’s Power). August 2020 Parliamentary Elections only two candidates returned from Districts. They were entitled to one from the National List. They appointed an educated woman who is not a member of the JVP. Let me, as an experiment ask readers to contribute name, and see if they approve.
    .
    “Separatist nonsense” is not sufficiently objective.

  • 2
    0

    This request was directed specifically at Lester, but I’d welcome responses from anyone.
    .
    Far too many anonymous comments, taking no responsibility for what is posted.
    .
    There were more personal views that I wanted to air, but how to? What started as an expression of grieving for a then noble young man has been hijacked by apologists for the current lot of corrupt politicians and for military personnel accused of Human Rights violations.
    .
    No accountability. Roel says she is a committed Christian. I respect that acknowledgement that she is weak and needs the support of “religion”.
    .
    If there were more objectivity here it would be possible to discuss more seriously the shortcomings of persons not connected with the “Double-Paksa” government. But not when traps are laid for us.
    .
    Panini Edirisinhe (NIC 483111444V)

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